TOT partnering with AIS for mobile launch

State-owned Thai operator TOT has partnered with market leader AIS to launch its mobile offering.

TOT currently offers a 2.1GHz 3G service and the partnership will seek to expand this. The country’s ICT Minister Uttama Savanayana has stated that AIS is also expected to assist in TOT’s deployment of mobile services over its 2.3GHz spectrum.

The proposal has not yet been approved by the regulator, the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). Due for review before the end of October, NBTC will also reach a decision on whether TOT can use its 2.3GHz spectrum for 4G services.

Savanayana also confirmed that TOT would not be taking legal action to prevent the 900MHz spectrum auctions due to take place next month. The state operator’s partnership with AIS also covers this frequency band.

Just two weeks prior to the announcement of the partnership, TOT pulled out of discussions with AIS regarding the formation of a joint tower venture, claiming that it “might not be the best course of action”. The talks were prompted by the imminent expiration of TOT’s 2G concession with the market leader. AIS and TOT would respectively have taken a 49% and 51% stake in the venture, with TOT managing over 13,000 towers that formed part of its concession.

Acting TOT president Monchai Noosong has called for AIS, which has a 46% market share, to transfer all of the towers back to TOT in order to meet the terms of the concession, which expired on September 30th.

AIS won the partnership contract by seeing off competition from True (which placed second), Loxley, Mobile LTE and Samart.

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